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Wired’s Tablet App is Impressive and Raises Questions



Wired has demoed an application for a Tablet that is running on Adobe AIR and yes it is demoed running on a Tablet. Publishers are certainly hoping this kind of effort is the future and that they will figure out a way to entice us all to pay for these things. The jury is still out on that.

I went back and looked at my records from about 12 years ago. At that time I subscribed to 14 different publications on an annual basis that were delivered by regular mail. I also bought two daily newspapers each morning and the Sunday New York Times each week at a cost then of $4.50. All told I was spending about $700 a year on all of this. That eventually stopped and those costs were simply transferred to paying for Internet access.

Several points about this.

First, you can tell how much the iPad has invaded the thinking of so many as quite a few articles about Wired’s app mentioned it as an iPad app. It was being demoed on another device. We all know Apple’s stance on Adobe’s Flash platform, and from the sound of things, Adobe might be positioning AIR as an alternative to fighting that battle, but there’s no guarantee that Apple is going to let AIR on its platform either. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Second, Wired’s app proves that great design is going to be a key element for acceptance, in addition to content, but the technology for delivery is going to also be an important factor. Face it, publishers are going to want their content on any device they can get it on. An Adobe AIR like solution would certainly make that easier but a battle over who controls what is not going to move things along for anybody.

Third, in the longer view, Wired’s demonstration shows that there could be a resurgence in the kind of content creation and delivery that led every high school activity group to sell magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser for a good portion of the last century. The question is will we be willing to pay for it and value it in the ways we paid for content in an earlier era. Yesterday also saw a story about how their is some internal struggling going on at the New York Times over pricing of its future digital product. The circulation folks apparently want to see a monthly cost of $20 to $30, equivalent to what you pay for the paper to be dropped on your doorstep. The digital folks see a much different model of around $10 a month.

I don’t think anyone has the answers yet. The next few years will see all sorts of attempts and experiments to try and make this work on a number of levels, and somewhere in the future a model will probably evolve. But given the pace that things shift technologically these days, it is most likely going to always be a moving target. That is going to require a flexibility that will need to be learned as well for those hoping Tablets will be any sort of salvation.



  1. Xavier

    02/17/2010 at 12:05 pm

    I used to pay for a lot of magazines and the local newspaper, but haven’t done so for at least 5 years. The only online content I pay for is the Wall Street Journal, which runs about $100 per year. The NY Times circulation guys are crazy if they think people will pay $360 per year.

    I think this app is going to be a lot more interesting to advertisers than to readers. Note how the Wired guy stresses that ads are as “important” as content for magazine readers. I disagree as it was pretty annoying to pay $$$ like you did for magazines and have over 50% of the pages filled with ads.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    02/17/2010 at 12:32 pm

    Yeah, I agree… I used to subscribe to several tech magazines when I was first getting started with tech back in the 90’s, but as time went by I hated paying for advertising and content that I could get free from other sources.

  3. Scott

    02/17/2010 at 7:20 pm

    Xavier: “Note how the Wired guy stresses that ads are as “important” as content for magazine readers. I disagree as it was pretty annoying to pay $$$ like you did for magazines and have over 50% of the pages filled with ads.”

    Exactly! The only magazine I ever bought for the Ads was Computer Shopper….

    Now, if they include ads to keep the content free to me, fine. But if I have to pay, no ads please.

  4. John S.

    02/17/2010 at 8:32 pm

    Irony is listening to the Adobe Design guy talk about innovation while the Flash player stalls and buffers every 5 seconds…It’s almost as ironic as Adobe FINALLY cracking the code with flash on the blackberry just months after RIM announced html5 support for the next browser.

  5. Guy Poz

    02/18/2010 at 12:37 am

    Well, as soon as you’ll get your new Tablet,
    You must check out the new iPad / Tablets Home page.
    All what one needs,
    In one click – on one place.
    I’m using it at my regular PC FireFox for now.

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